Praktica L. Putting the ‘no’ into ‘No Frills”

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There are basic cameras and there is the Praktica L, a large block of East German utilitarian metal introduced to consumers and comrades in 1969 as the first camera in Praktica’s L-line.  The previous PL Nova range cameras were basic enough with some models having metering, and the whole range having some curves, bevels, lines, circles and a bit of a retro look, even for 1960’s cameras.

With the L range, Praktica embraced modernity, sort of. No lines, curves – just a big heavy functional camera, and to these eyes, a thing of beauty.

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that  lil’ Pentacon decal

The Praktica L has no meter, no split focussing screen, no battery – nothing other than a shutter button, speed dial and a winder. My model has a slight deviation from conformity. A small number of the L’s had the Pentacon logo etched on the prism housing and a small ‘L’.  I was delighted when my £8 eBay purchased arrived with this decal.

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The winder doesn’t even have the black covering present on many later Praktica L ranges, obviously far too decadent.  The shutter speed dial is the usual with a flash hot shoe sync at 1/125, a fastest speed of 1/1000th and an ISO indicator.  Just as a reminder as there is nothing electrical in this camera.

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minimalist

The viewfinder is bright and bare.  There is a wee pointer which disappears when the shutter is cocked.  There is also no focussing aid like a split screen – which can make focussing a bit trickier than usual.  So nothing to distract from composition..

Which brings me to the lens – the much derided Domiplan 50/2.8, a lens with a pretty poor reputation out there.

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the dreaded Domiplan

It looks nice with the ‘zebra’ markings, it’s extremely basic in construction and, yes – a bit soft. But it’s not terrible and with metering by sunny 16 it did ok. These shots were taken in changing weather in County Donegal on a roll of Agfaphoto APX100.

glencolmkille1
Glencolmkille at f16
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and at f4 with swirly Domi-bokeh
guinness
it was closed
pub
daytime drinker looking for his bike
roartys
Roartys
rock shadow
rocks shadow selfie

Like a lot of old cameras – and basic cameras – there’s a lot to enjoy using without a meter and focussing aids, and using a pretty crappy old lens while getting half decent results.  And of course using one so aesthetically pleasing.

3 thoughts on “Praktica L. Putting the ‘no’ into ‘No Frills”

  1. Marc Beebe June 13, 2020 / 4:13 pm

    Brutalism in camera design.
    I had one of those Domiplan lenses with my Exaktas. It was fair. Not horrible, but not anything great either. I rather like the minimalism of the Praktica L: a great contrast to today’s digital wonder machines with their infinite functions – which never get used.

    Like

    • Ian McC June 17, 2020 / 9:07 am

      They’re really as basic as you get! The Domiplan aperture gets a bit sticky – using an old Tessar now, much better

      Like

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